Devout Christian Baltimore Ravens tight end and author Benjamin Watson has been nominated for the National Football League’s highest honor when it comes to individual charity work.
The 36-year-old father of five was nominated for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an honor that exists to acknowledge one player’s devotion to volunteer work and community outreach and comes with a $50,000 prize donation to a charity of his choice.
The Ravens announced on Thursday that Watson was the team’s 2017 candidate for the award. All 32 NFL teams have selected a player to represent the team and the city, and three finalists will be chosen in January. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges and announced on Feb. 3, 2018, the night before Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
“It’s humbling,” Watson said, according to BaltimoreRavens.com. “Over the course of my career, you never do things expecting there’s going to be some sort of honor, but to be honored as the Walter Payton Man of the Year is something I cherish.”
Watson, a veteran who is in his second season with the Ravens, is not afraid to show his face around Baltimore. Baltimore residents might have seen him out at the I-95 Fort McHenry Tunnel toll booths helping people #passitforward a few days before Thanksgiving.
He and his wife, Kirsten, are heavily active in giving back to the community through their organization, the One More Foundation, which seeks to “carry the hope and love of Christ to those in our community who need it most.”
Every year, the One More Foundation hosts an event called the Big BENefit, in which the organizations partners with a local organization to help 25 underserved families in the cities he is playing in the opportunity to shop for Christmas gifts for their children at Walmart with Watson and many of his NFL teammates.
The One More Foundation will hold the 2017 Big BENefit event next week at a Walmart in the Baltimore area with 25 parents from the Building Families for Children nonprofit.
Watson’s charity spreads beyond the Baltimore community and even outside of the country.
Watson has also been involved with the International Justice Mission in the fight against sex trafficking.
Last summer, the Watsons, along with a few other NFL players, traveled to the Dominican Republic to see IJM’s efforts there and even talked with sex trafficking survivors. According to BaltimoreRavens.com, the Watsons dedicated more resources to help the IJM mission.
The Dominican Republic trip came after Watson visited Lebanon with a group of pastors in April to see the Syrian refugee crisis for themselves. The trip lasted about a week.
“You try to find ways to connect with them to show them that other people in other parts of the world care about their situation,” Watson said in a media interview after the trip. “A lot of times in the United States, at least I have heard, that everybody wants to come here. … That is not what I heard from the few families that I talked to. What I heard was, ‘We want to go home. We want to go home.'”
Watson has also not been afraid to voice his opinions on domestic racial tensions. Watson authored the popular 2015 book Under Our Skin and even organized a forum on race and faith that was held at a Florida megachurch last February.
Watson has also not been afraid to voice his opinions on abortion and spoke at the 2016 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Watson also authored the book The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life, which is a guide to help first-time fathers as they go through the journey of fatherhood.
This marks the second time that Watson has been nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, named after the hall-of-fame running back. He was nominated by the New Orleans Saints during the 2015 season. But the award that year was won by San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin.